Recent Reads #76

As ever, today I will be briefly reviewing all the books I’ve read since my last post in approximately fifty words. 

I want to share my full thoughts on some of these books in the future, so I’ll share a brief idea today with the full review to come.


If You Still Recognise Me by Cynthia So

⭐️🏳️‍🌈🧠

TW: mental abuse, prior toxic relationship, manipulation, homophobia, disowning, racism 

Occasionally a book comes into your life and finds a special notch in your heart. This was one of those books for me. So has crafted a book that really spoke to me and will mean so much to so many readers. This book is a quiet, understated and softly beautiful contemporary coming of age narrative. It really speaks to a lot of the queer experience and I loved the inclusion of different queer generations. Generally, the diversity and representation in this book is so heart-warming to see and I really loved So’s inclusion of discussing the lack of representation in the media. The repercussions this has on people, when they cannot see themselves reflected, is profound and impactful. To see this dialogue opened up is exquisite. 

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The Counselors by Jessica Goodman

 🧠

TW: death, murder, blood, drug use, alcohol, car accident, depression, cheating, fire

This is the type of book that just oozes those summery days, with the heat pushing down on you and the days stretching out endlessly. Camp Alpine is initially depicted as an oasis, an idyllic place away from the stress and strains of life. It is a place entombed in luxury and privilege. There is that sense of something fundamentally wrong lurking underneath though. It’s like those moments when something drops in your stomach and the whole world tilts. Goodman expertely depicts this throughout the book, with little moments building this big picture of corruption, lies and a few bodies too. The atmosphere is top-notch and makes the setting hum with electricity, taking on a life of its own. 

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This Place is Still Beautiful by XiXi Tian

⭐️🧠

TW: racism, racially motivated hate crime, bullying, discrimination

This is a gorgeously written book. Tian infuses every page with such delicate, emotional and visually appealing prose that I became utterly wrapped up in. Every emotion is explored with nuance and detail, creating a tapestry of complex relationships and connections. This is fundamentally a story about sisterhood and coming of age. That fraught time in their well-developed lives is crucial and Tian depicts it in the summery bubble full of endless promise and hope. 

Full review here.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

This Wicked Fate by Kalynn Bayron

⭐️🏳️‍🌈🧠

TW: death, violence, gore, grief, murder, death of a parent, blood, gore, vomit, kidnapping, mentions of child abuse & emotional abuse

I really enjoyed This Poison Heart when I read it last year. It was an imaginative and unique tale that will completely immersed me and transported me  to a world full of magic, plants and witches. I really loved how Greek mythology was entwined into this story. It just added more layers and richness to an already elaborate story that completely captured my imagination. The way Kalynn built on the already detailed worldbuilding of the first book was so imaginative and wonderful to see unfold. It had a unique feel to it, with a stunning magic system and a clever integration of mythology into the modern world. This made it stand out from the rest for me. 

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Bad Things Happen Here by Rebecca Barrow

⭐️🏳️‍🌈🧠

TW: death, cheating, murder, disappearance, violence, racism, grief, anxiety, self-harm, suicidal ideation, reference to sexual violence

This was one of those books that is just all-consuming and completely enrapturing. I absolutely flew through the pages. Luca was such a fascinating protagonist, flawed and fractured by her grief but also determined to uncover the truth. This was a really twisty and constantly engaging mystery, with shocking reveals and an impressive focus on quieter character work.

Full review here.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas

⭐️🏳️‍🌈🧠

TW: suicide, death of a friend, grief, depression, excessive drinking, post traumatic stress disorder, dead bodies, animal experimentation, alcoholism, gaslighting

I love the Dark Academia and Gothic genres and this book wove the two together really well. The setting came alive for me, intertwined with this mysterious and unsettling scientific study and experimentation occurring. This is a book that delights in the obscure whispers in the dark, the feeling of being watched and that deeply horrifying drop in your stomach. It is a subtle, bizarre and often labyrinthine tale, but so worth unpicking the thread.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Our Crooked Hearts by Melissa Albert

TW: animal mutilation, animal death and sacrifices, decapitation, sacrifice, parental neglect, blood, gore and dark witchcraft 

🏳️‍🌈🧠

This book was like a shiver down my spine. It was haunting, chilling and mysterious in all the best ways. Albert’s writing perfectly encapsulates this atmosphere, with a lyrical feel to it in its gorgeous evocative nature. However, it also had such a sharp edge to it. I loved the slow burn of the mystery and how past and present collided in contrasting narrative threads.

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Final Strife by Saara El-Arifi

TW: detailed drug abuse/addiction, drug withdrawal, mass murder, death, familial death, violence, gore, executions, discrimination, kidnapping, manipulation/ gaslighting, police brutality/ corruption, fatphobia, physical/ emotional abuse, familial abuse, trauma

⭐️🏳️‍🌈🧠💙

This was such a stunning book. I loved how deftly the groundwork for future books was set out, with an in-depth peek into the politics and history of this brutal world. El-Arifi takes her time, allowing the intricate character work to shine through and you to really connect with these complex people. Also, I loved the excerpts at the beginning of each chapter, adding little hints of world-building throughout the book and weaving that rich tapestry.

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The House Across The Lake by Riley Sager

TW: alcoholism, toxic parent relationship, drugs, death of spouse, death, violence, murder, domestic abuse, child abuse, suicide

This was such a classic thriller, playing with my expectations and tropes of the genre. As always with Sager, the twists come thick and fast and spin the story in an entirely unexpected and new direction. The suspense and depiction of grief is stellar, with surprising depths and levels to it.

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Silence That Binds Us by Johanna Ho

⭐️🧠

TW: suicide, discussion of suicide, depression, grief, racism, police brutality, death

The depiction of grief in this book was nothing short of incredible. It felt so authentic and accurate, showing the range of grief responses. The emotional intensity and veracity presented by Ho was perfect. This is a heavy book, but one that really mires in the lived experiences of grief, suicide and racism. It is a book designed to sit with you and for you to sit and truly consider after reading. In particular, the representation of grief after someone has died by suicide was astounding and rang true for me. The emotional tapestry is layered and infused with a biting truth that really resonated with me.

Full review here.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The Red Palace by June Hur

⭐️

TW: graphic description of murder, dead bodies, torture, violence, abandonment, blood, death, death of a parent, grief, mental illness, police brutality

June Hur is such a force when it comes to YA historical mysteries. Her work is consistently amazing (check out my review here). The Red Palace is no exception, serving another thrilling and twisty mystery that kept me constantly guessing. I love the way Hur weaves in historical narratives into a K-drama style story dripping with blood. Also, I love the exploration of complicated and fractured family relationships.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Chosen Ones:

4 thoughts on “Recent Reads #76

  1. Sophie @ Me & Ink says:

    I only found out about This Place is Still Beautiful recently but I was immediately intrigued by the premise and yours is the first review I’ve seen. I am so happy to hear great things and I love the sound of exploring the sister’s relationship! I am glad you liked The Final Strife and Catherine House too! 🥰

    Liked by 1 person

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